Sugar Kings finding wins hard to come by in early season play
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Sugar Kings finding wins hard to come by in early season play

Connor Hall stole the show on Sunday night.

As the seconds wound down in the third period between the Elmira Sugar Kings and the Brampton Bombers it looked like Brampton was going to take the game. But at the last second of play Hall flicked the puck in to take the game into overtime.

The first period of overtime solved nothing, so they went into 3-on-3 play for the second overtime period. A missed shot bounced off Hall’s chest and went into the Bombers’ net, and the game seemed to be done.

Kings players poured onto the ice in celebration, but it was short-lived as the refs called back the goal. Brampton would eventually score to take the game 4-3.

“Connor Hall put it in with his chest and he made a forward motion with his chest and you’re not allowed to do that. It’s essentially the same if you kicked it with your foot. You can let pucks hit you and if they hit you and go in that’s fine. But if you make a motion to try to move the puck into the net then it’s disallowed. And he had done that for sure,” head coach Jeff Flanagan explained.

Hall was reassigned to the Kings after playing for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL earlier this season. He could go back up to the Rangers at any time, but Flanagan says they’re happy to have him playing for them as long as they can.

It was a tight game all the way through, as they finished the first period locked 2-2. Elmira goals came from Ryan Walsh and Ethan Skinner. Ryley Cribbin, Ty Biles, and Zac Coulter picked up assists. Bombers goals were scored by Lucas Goodman and Mitch Shennette, assisted by Carmine Vietri, Ramon Lopez, and Yianni Liarakos.

Connor Hall celebrates after scoring at the last second of play to take the Elmira Sugar Kings into overtime on Sunday. They’d eventually fall 4-3 in double overtime to the Brampton Bombers.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Connor Hall celebrates after scoring at the last second of play to take the Elmira Sugar Kings into overtime on Sunday. They’d eventually fall 4-3 in double overtime to the Brampton Bombers. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
“We felt that we played a pretty high intensity game. Our issue we thought was in our defensive zone. We turned over a bunch of pucks that turned into goals and we lost numerous battles down in the corners and in around the net. That was really the difference and we thought we scored four goals and they got an empty netter so we were right there. We’d like some of the battles back that gave them an opportunity to get into a scoring position,” Flanagan said.

Brampton pulled ahead in the second with a goal from Brad Bollert (Cameron Cruickshank, Lucas Goodman). They held that lead until 19:59 in the third when Hall put the puck in the net, unassisted, and after the Kings had pulled goalie Mike Black to add an attacker.

The game deciding goal for Brampton came from Goodman, assisted by Nick Kiriakos.

“We had at least 45 shots and we carried the pace of the game a lot of the time in their zone and I think again our defensive zone wasn’t stellar. When they got a chance to score they did. We played pretty well but with the number of injuries that we have right now it’s been making it difficult,” Flanagan said.

Not including goalies, they have 13 healthy players right now. Rob Kohli, Klayton Hoelscher, Ethan Skinner, Ty Jackson, Mitch Montgomery, Ryan Maksymyk are all out injured. They used four call ups from the Wellesley Applejacks last weekend.

“When you don’t have your full team it makes it difficult to do the things that we planned in practice so far. I think we’re working hard and we’ve been in every game and very close with every team we’ve played, including Kitchener. There’s no panic,” Flanagan said.

Sunday’s game was a hard loss for the Kings who are on a five-game losing streak. They lost in Stratford 6-4 on Oct. 18 and haven’t added to their win column since their 8-1 win over Listowel on Oct. 4. Things got no better Tuesday night, as Elmira dropped a 4-1 decision to the Kitchener Dutchmen.

Elmira ranks sixth in the Midwestern Conference with a 4-6-1 record, something they’d like to improve on this weekend.

“We’re hoping to be able to put in a good effort that we have in the last few games and then be able to make sure that we get in a position that we can play good defense and hopefully we can sneak some goals in and get a win,” Flanagan said.

They play two home games this weekend, the first on Saturday versus the Stratford Cullitons, and the second on Sunday against the Guelph Hurricanes. The puck drops at 7 p.m. for both games.

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